2017 Kansas
Master Teachers

John Butcher

Art Teacher
USD 229 Blue Valley

Melinda Eitel

Kindergarten Teacher
USD 305 Salina

Joan Hayden

Physical Education Teacher
USD 475 Geary County

Jennifer Hendrix

Physics Teacher
USD 443 Dodge City

Kimberly Hett

5th Grade Teacher
USD 385 Andover

Brandy Lane

6th Grade Teacher
USD 437 Auburn Washburn

Laura Schwinn

A/V Communications Teacher
USD 253 Emporia

Kansas Master Teacher Award


photo of Jennifer Hendrix

Jennifer Hendrix

2017 Kansas Master Teacher

Physics Teacher
Dodge City High School
USD 443 Dodge City


Knowing her students will “shape the world beyond the walls of my room in powerful but unknown ways,” Jennifer Hendrix believes her greatest contribution as an educator is to “reveal the best qualities of my kids: their own curiosity, compassion and innovation.”

Hendrix strives to create a community of learners where complex critical thinking experiences are shared and skepticism and argumentation, tempered with respect, are welcome. Her physics classroom “is their space…which supports their study of the natural world and contains the tools they see fit to experiment with and argue the meaning of their results.”

Her use of standards-based grading gives all students, despite varying abilities, a flexible environment in which to move beyond their own boundaries.

One former student shared, “It was not possible to slouch low on your lab stool and fade into the background in her class.”

Hendrix chooses not to teach from a textbook. “She can provide better, more in-depth and up-to-date information and experiences for her students than a textbook,” a colleague states “[She] is not a teacher who teaches the same lesson semester after semester; as the science changes, her teaching changes.”

In her classroom, failure has value because in the scientific world – and elsewhere – learning occurs with failure.

The student-led teaching strategies adopted by Hendrix, such inquiry-based learning, collaborative problem-solving, and peer review sessions, challenge students to take risks and think creatively without fear of failure and interference. A student once encouraged her methods by exclaiming, “Hendrix, set kids up to fail more often. We learn so much more!”

A former student, now studying mechanical engineering in college, reported his college science courses were easier because “I had been taught the correct way of thinking by Hendrix so I could figure it out.”

Hendrix received her bachelor’s in biochemistry in 1999 from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX, and a master’s in education from the University of Notre Dame in 2001. She began her career teaching science courses in Tennessee, then spent a year and a half in Santiago, Chile, as a fourth-grade ESL instructor. From 2003-2014, she taught a variety of science courses at Cimarron, Kansas, High School and in 2014, began teaching physics at Dodge City High School.

The number of students taking physics at DCHS has increased nearly 75 percent in the last few years, reports her principal, who continues, “She attracts students to her courses that other teachers are unable to. Students will work hard for a teacher who works just as hard, if not harder for them – and this is what Ms. Hendrix does for all of her students.”